Modern Classic SLRs Series : Nikon F3 Part II

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Index Page
  Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E

Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: Hansen, Lars Holst

| Message Board | for your favourite Nikon F3 Series SLR models
| Message Board | for your Nikon Optics in a shared environment
| Message Board | Specifically for Dispose or Looking for Nikon/Nikkor Photographic Equipment

| Back | to Pictorial History of Nikon SLR / rangefinders / Nikonos / digital cameras.

About this photographic site.

Exposure Control

F2SB & F2AS both allow users to enjoy certain form of converted automation with the attachment of EE Aperture Control Unit (DS-1 for F2SB & DS-12 for F2AS) attached on the all mechanical body of the F2. Shutter Priority is made possible that way. The F3 has its automation built in the body and aperture priority is opted instead of shutter priority where it doesn't need to modify the lens. Canon's F1n can use both (FD mount) but the LX is limited to aperture priority as with the F3.

As you may ask WHY I always used Canon's F1n & Pentax LX in so many instances to compare - as all these models were direct competition during the F3 era (In fact, I would love to put OM2 and Contax's RTS II into the list) - ALL these models are true classic cameras of modern times and they have their strength , revolutionary or proprietary technologies respectively, which I will feature them one by one in sections to follow)

Nikon has the tradition (Good and bad) of always adopt "proven" technologies of others into their camera design. The Olympus OM2n revolutionary real-time OTF (Metering Off the Film Plane) metering was duplicated by the F3 (While out of the three, Canon decided to go separate way in its design and thus remain as the sole model among the four that doesn't provide TTL OTF flash metering). To avoid infringement of patent that Olympus owned, both F3 and the later LX came with their respective solutions. In comparison, F3's method is less sophisticated but more direct. TTL OTF is only applied to flash metering - BOTH ambient and flash metering are handled by a SINGLE silicon photo diode (SPD) cell that facing the shutter curtain at the bottom of the mirror box.

Optical path illustration.(31k Jpeg)
The orange line indicates the optical path from subject to viewfinder. While yellow lines indicate how the aperture direct readout is visible in the viewfinder. This design was modified/rearranged with the arrival of AF, where location of the bottom house the optical block (CCDs) for AF sensors. This illustration is also useful for beginners' knowledge of how optical path reaches from the lens to the viewfinder and how the ADR works in Nikon cameras, that is why I retouch and enlarge it here for your easy reference.

How was this done ?
Note the secondary mirror below the main reflex mirror. The secondary mirror will reflect the light passing through the main mirror to the metering cell that faces the shutter curtain to perform both TTL ambient and flash metering. (The mechanism will make the second mirror flip upward, attached firmly to the back of the main mirror during an exposure or mirror lock up command). Check for a picture of the metering cell at flash section later.

The dimmed area at the center of the main reflex mirror (Silvered coated) are around 50,000 unsilvered "pinholes" to allow precisely 8% (F4 uses 30%!) of the light pass through to the secondary mirror and reflect the light source to the metering cell for exposure calculation.

The cell will meter enough light reflected from the film plane when shutter curtain opened during permissible sync speed and within that fraction of second during a flash exposure to instruct the dedicated TTL Flash units to stop emitting power and thus a theoretical perfect flash exposure is formed.

The viewfinder information is simple enough. A tiny rectangular LCD shown shutter speed selected (The speed is handled by a quartz oscillator, although it is stepless but only closest to standard values is shown, like 1/125, 1/250 etc - although the actual speed could be at variables like 1/98 or 1/235 etc..).

F3 Viewfinder info img
ADR (Aperture Direct Readout - see illustration above), transferring user preselected aperture value from the lens aperture ring to the viewfinder. and picture shown here lacked a flash ready light - which will light up when used with dedicated flash units.

The 12mm circle outline the area is where the F3's center weighted metering pattern concentrates - with the variation from Nikon's standard 60/40 distribution to a more condensed 80/20 combination (F4 goes back to 60/40 and the new F5 with 75/25 and also can custom change/fine-tune yourself). Personally, I am more used to this setting (In fact, I custom set my F5 to 80/20 instead of the factory preset of 75/25 combination on center weighted metering). At least, I know where am I metered at - with some room for other areas to be included in the calculation. But I would advise used it in combination with another control button: the exposure lock. It will train you to pay more attention in framing / re-composition of your subject of interest as well after you have metered what or where you intended.

Exposure index img
F3 doesn't have DX coding. You have to adjust manually. Pull and turn o adjust the right setting yourself. Film Speeds can be referred below - also can used as a alternate exposure compensation method for both manual and auto mode. BUT remember to adjust it back to your correct film speed after us

ASA scales.image

Viewfinder displayed are virtually 100% - as with the F & F2. Canon & others (other than Contax RTS series) has been struggling to get the figures close (Canon F-1n closes the gap to 98% and not until the EOS 1 series managed to get the 100% viewfinder coverage - BUT at the expense of WITHOUT interchangeable viewfinders).

This has much to do with the standard in manufacturing, precision and assembling various standard of parts. Although the figures revealed the high manufacturing standard Nikon has been maintaining to achieve the 100% frame coverage. The Nikon F & F2 has similar feature of 100% coverage of the picture field, both are mechanical cameras.

To help you understand how difficult it is to achieve and maintain that figure of 100%: The Nikon F2 body consists of the die cast aluminum alloy shell, baseplate, mirror box, front cover, top plate, bottom cover and camera back; With each of the total 1,506 component parts, design, process, finish and assembled them into a camera. Tolerance and quality in manufacturing has to be of exacting standard so as to maintain area like the 100% image field coverage, all these are interlocking factors.

The F3, on the other hand, being a automatic camera with only a mechanical shutter to operate, may not have such mechanical sophistication. But nevertheless, the accumulated experience of the F & F2 does help to allow the designer to retain that feature.

Well, in term of practicality or in real life application, if your specific kind of works does not required the 100% frame coverage, you ought to move backward a little to provide some allowances (Since most commercial color labs will do the cropping of your image during processing for color prints and the slide mounted will cover portion of the transparencies. Nevertheless, the feature is still essential for some photographers who requires precise output of the picture frame of 100% coverage. Personally, I still think the feature is useful enough for my kind of work like duplication and copying work (I have a advertising and printing arm as well).

The High Eye Point Finder (DE-3) is by far the most popular. In actual fact, the Action finder, though more bulkier in size, can even provide extended eye relief to around 1.5" - but also came with a higher price for that convenience. High eye point means smaller magnification of image in the viewfinder and thus, one can see the whole viewfinder image at slightly away from the eyepiece (The DE-3 provides 1" eye relief at 0.75X magnification while standard eye level finder, the DE-2 provides 0.8X with 50mm lens set at infinity) - may be convenient for eyeglass wearer or someone, say shooting with a helmet. The Action Finder (DA 2) was indispensable when working in a camera housing for underwater photography or wearing a goggles. One weakness for the Nikon F3 Finder is still with its waist level finder - which still yields a reverse image in the viewfinder. Canon's finder is much more innovative, see here for an illustration but the Pentax LX is the most innovative with the FB1 system finders.

The High-Eye-Point was not something new. The Nikon F, F2 and even Nikkormat has that optical feature. But those days, like the eye level and Photomic finder already offer image magnification of 0.8X (Same with the current DE-2) and providing 18mm from the finder eyepiece to view the entire image field in the viewfinder.

Nikon F3 has 5 interchangeable finders at the initial stage and backed by 22 focusing screens and later joined in by some variations like F3AF (Lenses), F3T (Black and Champaign finished) and F3P (Press) (Updated). F3-H (High Speed) shares the same DE-4 as in the F3P. (Kindly refer to Finders Section , focusing screens and a very special section for Nikon's * Rare & highly collectible models for Nikon F Series for further reference on some of the early prototype versions of the F3).

I don't like to torture my visitors, this page has too many pictures
which may delay download time,..

* Click Next
to Motor Drive (Its strongest asset)
and follow by - perhaps the only apparent weakness of the F3.
Preface | Exposure Control | Important Accessories | Flash | * Conclusion | Message Board/GuestBook

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